Rescue EMS

Posted 12/31/69

NEW YORK STATE — Volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) in the Empire State are hurting, and a quick-fix bandage isn’t the cure.

Steve Kroll, chair of the New York State …

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Rescue EMS


NEW YORK STATE — Volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) in the Empire State are hurting, and a quick-fix bandage isn’t the cure.

Steve Kroll, chair of the New York State Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association (NYSVARA), is spearheading efforts to enhance EMS across the state, as the organizations are facing a critical shortage in funds, while the demands for services are increasing. 

NYSVARA was founded in 1939 as a nonprofit group representing volunteer ambulance professionals and organizations throughout the state.

As of mid-April, legislation to fix the problem—multiple bills introduced by different legislators—was still in committee in both the Senate and Assembly.

“EMS services across New York State are in crisis,” Kroll said in a recent article by Spectrum News. “We are not paid what it costs us to actually take care of somebody who is a medical patient—we lose money on every one of those—and one of the bills [before the NYS legislature] will correct that by increasing our rates.”

According to Kroll, another bill would assist in the implementation of telemedicine, in situations he described in the story as “low acuity needs,” aka calls that don’t require an ambulance transport to the emergency room.

As advocates traveled to the state capital to make a pitch to lawmakers, calling on them to address this critical situation, they stressed that local communities don’t have the resources or statutory authority to create county-wide or taxpayer-funded EMS programs to meet the ever-mounting financial hardships.

Under the slogan “Rescue EMS,” they and others involved in EMS are asking the state to rectify the existing situation. Currently counties and local municipalities are barred  from establishing joint taxing districts for EMS services.

Creating a district would make EMS comparable to taxpayer-funded law enforcement and fire services.

The overall goal of the comprehensive legislative package would permit the establishment of such a district, and in essence would recognize EMS as an “essential service” similar to police and fire. Key recommendations of the proposed legislation also include the elimination of the property tax cap for EMS services and authorization of Medicaid reimbursement for treatment in place and for transportation to alternative destinations. The latter, according to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), would get a patient to the most appropriate health care facility (not just a hospital), such as a mental health clinic or urgent care.

The legislation would allow volunteer firefighter and ambulance personnel to claim both state income and local property tax credit. It would also increase the personal income tax credit for volunteer firefighters and ambulance corps members from $200 to $800 for those eligible, and from $400 to $1,600 for married joint filers

It would put in place a Medicaid rate increase for EMS providers. This way, ambulance services would be reimbursed at a rate that comes closer to the cost of providing the service, according to NYSAC. 

Finally, it would require the NYS Thruway Authority to issue permits to EMS vehicles, similar to those for fire service apparatus—so they don’t have to pay tolls on the Thruway.

“This group of bills is very important for an area like ours that is so dependent on EMS,” said Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-100). “These pieces of legislation are extremely helpful to EMS services across the district.”

For more information about this issue, call NYSVARA at 877/697-8272, or visit

Some information in this story comes from the New York State Association of Counties.


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